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Wages: Lowest-income Households

Volume 702: debated on Tuesday 2 November 2021

16. What steps his Department is taking to increase wages and support the lowest-income households. (903995)

We are increasing the national living wage to £9.50 an hour from April 2022. We are also cutting the universal credit taper rate from 63p to 55p. Those measures will increase the incomes of millions of people and support the lowest-income households.

I thank my right hon. and learned Friend for that statement. I strongly welcome the increase in the national living wage to £9.50 and the cut to the UC taper rate. Those are strong work incentives, which will help people to keep more of their money. However, given that not everybody will read the Budget, may I ask what her strategy is to make sure that those who can benefit from these changes will know that they have taken place?

I thank my hon. Friend for his support. He will agree that the best way to support people is by supporting them into work and helping them to progress once they are in work. He makes an important point about communications. The Government run an annual public communications campaign to inform workers and employers of the change to the minimum wage rates. Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs also has a dedicated team who actively provide information to individuals and employers on minimum wages, and the UC changes will also be reflected in the claimants’ statements once they are in effect.

All those announcements are, of course, welcome for low-earning households in which somebody has a job, but none of them will deliver a single penny into the pockets of the very lowest-income households in which nobody is able to get a job. They are being hit by a £1,000 a year cut in universal credit. What is there in the Budget that will reinstate that £1,000 cut for the very lowest-income households on these islands?

We want to encourage as many people as possible into jobs. The Chancellor has put forward a plan for jobs, with a number of work programmes to ensure that we get both young people and the over-50s into work. Crucially, through the restart scheme we will get people off universal credit and into jobs. We also recognise that some people cannot work, which is why six weeks ago the Chancellor announced £500 million to help those who need our support, to be distributed through local authorities.